The subject of this first edition of my new category called “People Who Inspire Me” is Mrs. Janet Halliburton.
Mrs. Halliburton is my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, at Marshpoint Elementary here in Savannah.
Recently I got to spend the day at the school because of a new program called “Watch Dogs“, and it was really a treat to get to spend time in the classroom and on the playground with my daughter and her friends.
While in the classroom, sitting at a table with my daughter Lily and a few other children who were all drawing, I asked about these particular markers the kids were using, because, being an artist myself, I had never seen these particular markers and was interested in them.
Mrs. Halliburton began to tell me about the markers, and as we talked about the markers and where they came from, I got quite a lesson…
I’ll let her tell you in her own words;
With recent budget restrictions, our school system has funded the classroom teachers $200-$300 for start up supplies for the school year for our classrooms. That would include (for kindergarten) supplies like: construction paper, paint, other art supplies, instructional materials, etc. Lots of expenses come up during the course of the school year, so teachers have come to rely on organizations like Donorschoose.org to supplement our supply needs. This year I applied for and was funded for writing journals and writing tools like fancy crayons, markers, pencils and highlighters. We use these supplies for creative writing and handwriting practice. The kids really enjoy the fancy tools when they do their writing. Donorschoose.org is a fabulous resource for anyone who is looking for creative funding for projects of all kinds. I encourage you to check it out!
$200-$300 ??? That was the first thing that caught my ear. We’ll be nice and use the estimate of 20 students per class, then we’ll do the math on that. Not only are our teachers under-payed,(strictly my own humble opinion) but they are also under great pressure to get the job done without the proper supplies.(even the blind can see this)
I began to ask a little about her personal life, being careful not to prod too much. Mrs. Halliburton told me that she is married and has three kids of her own, who attend high school here in Savannah. When I asked her about her daily work hours, and again, I will let her tell you in her own words;
The work day for teachers begins officially at 8:15 and UNOFFICIALLY ends at 4:15. I say “unofficially” because I rarely see my colleagues leave at that time. Normally, teachers take home work (grading, planning, preparing materials) well into the evening hours. Often we are doing trainings or school-related workshops or classes in the summer months as well. So, our “clock” hours don’t really reflect the time we put into our profession.
“Clock hours”??? I wondered which “clock hours” were used in all of her efforts to obtain just the basic materials that are needed in the classrooms of our children.
What is inspiring to me here, is that Mrs. Halliburton is “solution oriented”. I’m sure that just like everywhere else in life, there are some teachers who are, and some who aren’t solution oriented, but Mrs. Halliburton sure is!
She could easily fall into all of the negative things that are clearly a reality in her situation. The pay, the hours, the lack of assistance and supplies, but instead she finds a way to get it done. And she gets it done right! Let’s not forget that it isn’t like she doesn’t have anything to do at home, with a husband and her own three kids.
When I sent this to Mrs. Halliburton for her approval, she replied and made mention that there are currently 16 teachers at Marshpoint who have submitted and received funding for projects from Donorschoose.org. That was music to my ears! It is an honor to know Mrs. Halliburton, and also to know that there are lots of people in the world, who are making a difference!
Again in her own words; Of course we are always asking our class parents for the “normal” school supplies, like glue sticks, writing paper, crayons, scissors, etc. Most parents are very willing to send in reinforcement supplies as the kids run out during the school year. I am lucky to have a very giving group of parents this year and I consider it a blessing as that is not always the case. We have 22 students in our special needs inclusion/regular ed kindergarten this year.
I highly suggest that we check out Donorschoose.org and I highly suggest that we take better care of our teachers. Theirs are the hands that we put our children in to every day. You may not even have kids, but consider the fact that these are the next generation, and they will be running things before we know it.
Let us all take the cue from Mrs. Halliburton and be solution oriented people in our own daily lives. We all have our challenges in lives, and we can all choose to spend time in the problem, or we can spend our time in the solution.
Thank you Mrs. Halliburton for being YOU!